Friday, February 27, 2009

A Million Different Directions

I really don't know how I expect myself to focus enough to write a coherent blog post.
Multi-tasking isn't all it's cracked up to be.
When we traded in our SUV last March we sprung for the Sirius Satellite Radio subscription since the new SUV already had a receiver. At that time you got the online version free with your subscription.
Well, with the new U2 album coming out on Tuesday here in The States, BBC1 Radio is doing interviews and a live performance. And I can listen because we have Sirius!
And yonks ago I downloaded this StarPlayr application to actually operate the Sirius because their online player never worked. Anyway, StarPlayr has a feature where you can record what you are listening to and make an MP3.
Which I tried to do with the interview this morning so Hubby could hear it, but the radio interview started just as a source I was supposed to be interviewing for an article called—so I hit the "record" button not realizing I was already recording and I stopped it instead!
Oh, woe.
But now they are playing the performance and I've got the recording feature sorted out, so at least Hubby will be able to save the songs.

I'm Struggling Why?
Of course, this is also all available on the BBC Radio 1 website, so he can hear it there as well.
And I had that first interview, and I have another interview coming up at 1 pm, and I'm trying to eat lunch, and I have a folder of story ideas I have to go through and distribute to the team.
It's very breathless for a Friday. Especially considering Boss Man and The Deadline Setter aren't in the office so it's not like I have to be working hard to impress them. snicker.

Oh, right, you aren't here to listen to my fights with technology.
I worked on Hubby's Sox Socks last night. Mainly because it was in my bag on the sofa table and all my other projects were in the dinning room and I couldn't be bothered getting off the couch.
Remember, I store active projects and my sock yarn stash in the dinning room credenza so it is easy to get to, but protected from the puppies.
I got a little messed up because I'd apparenlty fogotten to advance the row counter a few times.
I work my gusset decreses on every other row. I don't count the row when I pickup the stitches on the side of the heel flap in my row count. I start the foot row count on the first work even row after the pick up row.
This way I always know that odd number rows are worked even and even number rows are a decrease row.
Well the counter was indicating I was on an odd row, but I could see that I should be working a decrease row. It was rather stressfull for a few minutes, but then I finally counted the number of rows I'd worked on the foot and discovered the row counter was off.
So these little tricks don't help at all if we don't apply them properly.
But now I've decreased all the extra stitches away and am working the foot even. I have a way to go, but I might corner Hubby this weekend and have him try it on just to make sure I'm on track.

Moving On
Ok, I have to get ready for my next interview.
Have a good weekend. I probably won't be around much. I'm working at the store both days and my mom is staying at our house Saturday, so I probably won't have much computer time.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Damn Doily

The doily has been in time out.
A week or two ago I finished extending with the goal of reaching 12 inches and got 11 inches instead.
The original pattern calls for 30 rows for the central spiral before working the edging.
Because it is a spiral, I'm having a bit of trouble measuring the row gauge. So I made an educated guess and extended the center out to 50 rows before starting the edging.
I wet it and then stretched it as much as I could and laid it out on a towel to dry, and it was 11 inches.
Causing me to ignore it in favor of more cooperative projects. However, this is for someone else, who is paying for the thread, so I should get cracking.

Not a Total Fool
Of course, if this was a crocheted doily, with crochet's lovely independent stitches, I would have been able to get an accurate measurement of the diameter before I blocked it. Since it's a knit doily, I can only stretch it flat on the needles so much, which is no help at all. Most of the time it is hanging down between the needles in a rather snood-like fashion.
Having learned from attempt number one, after I finished the edging, I didn't cut the thread. Instead I clipped a stitch marker to it so I wouldn't have to worry about weaving in another end.
At some point in recent memory, I had started the process of pulling out the edging. I had pulled out the crochet loops and had all the stitches back on the needles, but there were two rows to pick out. sigh.
Last night I picked it up again and spent half an hour picking out those rows. I know it was half an hour because I was watching Men In Black on TV, making it easy to keep an eye on the clock on the cable box.
I believe I was only able to work forward for 2 rows before it was bedtime.

Struggling Forward
I'm going to work the center out for 10 more rows. I have no idea if that will be enough since I can't figure out where to measure for a row count. sob. I wish there was a way to measure it more accurately without having to work all the edging, etc. At one point I had transferred it to my 24" Addi Turbo circular, but even that didn't seem to work out well for measuring.
(I didn't want to work it on the circular. I had become accustomed to the end of the needles providing a break between pattern repeats; something that would have been lost on the circ.)

Questionable Needle Size
A concern I've had since I started expanding it is whether I'm on the right size needle. I'm using US1, but I wonder if I should be on US2. It appears that even when I worked it the first time around I didn't know what size needle I was on. My Ravelry project page says US1. Although I remember changing that information, I don't remember why I would have. You would think if my Ravelry notebook said US2 I would have said, "Oh that must be what I was using" and leave it, but no, I changed the needle size.
Needle size is an issue because if I had been on the US2 originally and now I'm on the US1 my gauge might be different, which would explain why my clever calculations of just adding 20 rows to get to 12 inches didn't work out.
Although the gauge can't be terribly different since I'm not seeing a glaring difference between the original center and the section I've added.
I'm considering working the next doily on US2 from start to finish, but then what if it ends up too big?
Sometimes a girl can't win.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Apple Thieving Puppy

samson snuffel (no yarn was harmed in the making of this photo.)
Yesterday morning I gave Hubby half an apple at breakfast because we are trying to eat healthier.
Yesterday evening I asked whether he ate the other half I'd left on the kitchen island when he got home from school.
He said no.
We looked at each other until I got the nerve up to ask whether he had eaten the half from the day before.
Again he responded no.
So we both looked at Samson, who looked back looking innocent.
Because we all knew he had taken them, but as they were apples and entirely edible, there was no evidence of his crime.

This suspicion was confirmed this morning. I was standing in front of the fruit bowl fiddling with the olive oil when I realized Samson was laying on the floor watching me very intently.
So I picked up an apple, causing his ears to perk up and his gaze to become even more intense.
I casually walked over and put it on the cutting board on the end of the kitchen island. And Samson got up and followed me.
He's going to be disappointed, though, because I brought the whole apple for my lunch.

The Sad Part 1
Baru loves fruit. Actually, Baru loves food. But I doubt highly Samson shares with him. Poor Baru. It's possible Baru heads up to the Puppy Fort as soon as I leave, so he isn't even a witness to Samson's crimes. Of course, he still gets yelled at too. My coworkers think I should set up internet cameras so I can see what mischief they actually get up to.

The Sad Part 2
Samson is going to be 5 in May. We've lived in this house since April 2005, and he has been stealing food off the island after we leave for work basically since the day the island was set up.
It would appear that my dog is a faster learner than I am that it would not occur to me he would swipe something as tasty as half an apple!

The Harf
I did indeed work on the Harf while watching the president's address last night. I don't think it effected my gauge too much.
I've completed two cable panels, but still have about 20 more stitches to increase on this side. Then I'll cast on for the other side.
It would be very nice if I can manage to make my graft point land at a flat spot in the edge cables and between two cable panels. Or at least an easy spot in the panels. But I won't know for sure until I've finished increasing.
So far the edges aren't curling much, but I don't know if that is because the ribbing next to the cables is having the desired effect, or because the cord on the other end is holding things flat.
Only time will tell.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Switching Gears

In a stunning and unexpected programming change—I didn't work on the harf last night.
Oh, it was out on the chair arm where I could get to it easily and admire it.
But instead I worked on Hubby's Sox Socks.
Yeah, still no pictures.
I'm 17 rows into the foot, so I'm still working on the gusset decreases. For several days now it has been languishing with he heel turned and one side of the gusset picked up.
Haven't decided what I'll work on tonight. Haven't decided if we're watching the president's address.
Although I'm an East Coast Liberal and have been drinking the Kool-Aid since the primaries, I'm sure hearing about the economy is going to mess up my gauge. Although it will be good to hear the information right from the source.
Ok, gotta go. Errands to do, you know.

Monday, February 23, 2009


Despite all those blog posts yesterday, I actually got quite a bit of knitting done.
Pictures? What are those?
I'm on row 40, or is it 50? Am I into my second cable panel repeat?
Maybe I shouldn't blog about a project that I don't have on hand...
No, I'm on my second panel repeat, that's right.
I worked one panel repeat with the scarf bit, like I did with the prototype, then I started the second repeat and started the increases for the hood.
Although it doesn't matter how long I worked the scarf bit, since I'll just be extending it later, I figured one full repeat would have a nice balance and be easy to keep track of start and finish wise.
My original, brilliant plan was to cast on both sides and work them at the same time up to the top of the hood. But with all the fiddling at the cast on I started knitting and didn't look back.
In theory, I could stop, cast on again and catch up, but it also might be confusing to work both halves at the same time.
Which was another good reason to have easy to find starting points in the pattern.

Speaking of Increases
These increases seem to be moving along faster than the decreases on the prototype did. And I thought the increases on the prototype moved faster than the decreases, so maybe I'm not losing my mind.
Or maybe by the time I got to the decreases I was starting to get tired of the prototype and was ready to work on the real one.
Either way, I'm cruising along.
The Invernal yarn is lovely and soft to work with. I can't really tell about drape and such, since I have that 5.5 inch cord holding the live stitches from the other half, it's keeping the end suspended and not letting it flop around in a normal manner.
Actually, I'm glad I've got some length on the piece now, having that stiff cord right on top of me was kind of awkward.
When I was still working with the prototype, which was in Cascade 220, I was thinking I might need to attempt some shaping on the top of the hood. However, with this softer yarn, which also has a slightly different gauge, I'm thinking shaping won't be necessary.
But I won't know for sure until I reach the top. Which is much knitting time away.

Birthday Dinner Update
This morning Boss Man was mocking me because Hubby and I thought the parsnips were potatoes. He didn't actually say "And you call yourself a foodie" but I can read between the lines.
Well, he just came by to see what smelled so good.
I flipped the parsnips to the edge of the plate and declared "Do these not look like potatoes!?"
He agreed they did.
I am vindicated, our fine dining palate reputation is saved!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

(Almost) False Start

red harf swatches I finally cast on for the real Heart Harf.
This is the red Invernal yarn from Aslan Trend that I showed you a few weeks ago. There was some confusion about the color of the harf—the orange and yellow one was just a test run to see how the pattern would look and edgings and stuff. This red one is the real deal.
Of course, as soon as I started I was reminded of the importance of swatching with the yarn and needles you intend to use for the project.
However, this yarn is rather soft and fluffy and I don't think it would have survived the trauma of being worked, torn out, and reworked. I was actually seeing signs of distress from messing with the cast on edge. You can't see it in the photo, but the angora fuzz is quite pronounced where I was messing around. (The yarn is 50% angora!)

Big or Little
I was working with a US7 needle, which is what I used for the test model out of Cascade 220, and the fabric seemed a little floppy. I pulled out a US6, cast on enough stitches to work the cable panel, some ribbing, and one cable edge, and worked a few rows.
The US6 version is at the top in the photo, which you might have guessed because it is so much smaller.
At first I kind of liked the US6 version better. The fabric was denser and more similar to the fabric of the test model, but it also wasn't as soft as the US7 version. But it was late at night and I couldn't deal with the situation, so I went to bed.
Today I worked both pieces through row 16 of the cable panel, so they would be even.
I've decide to stick with the US7 version. The US6 version is denser and almost looks like a different color. I think if I was making a sweater out of this yarn I'd go with the smaller needle.
But the US7 seems to have more drape and the fabric is more soft and snuggly, which I think will be important for something wrapped around my head and neck.
Although the cables might pop a wee bit more with the smaller needle, I don't think I really loose much going up a size. Besides, the version on the larger needle seems to have a little more spread, which is a good thing since I don't want the scarf portion to be too narrow.

Getting Provisional
harf hiccupThere was also some confusion about the construction of the harf. Remember, "harf" stand for hat + scarf, which is my adorable name for it instead of "hooded scarf." So, yes, there will be long scarf tails coming down. I didn't work the scarf portion on the test model as it would have taken too much time. The hood portion is the bit that needed testing/designing, so I cut right to the chase on the test model.
At the same time, while the hood portion is the important bit, I want the scarf portions to be the same length.
I bought three skeins of this yarn, which wiped out the supply at the store, so I have to get it right the first time or I'll be scrambling to find more yarn.
Because of this, I decided to start "in media res" with a provisional cast on, work the hood bit from both sides to the middle, which I'll graft shut, then pick up the cast on edges and work the two scarf tails down simultaneously.
In this manner I'm hoping to ensure the hood is made, have the scarf end up even, and use up every scrap of yarn.

Being Too Clever, Again?
samson snuffel(remember, you can click on small pictures to go to a bigger version on flickr.)
Of course, as we all know, when you change knitting direction, such as with the other end of a provisional cast on, you sort of loose a stitch.
I was concerned this would be obvious and I'd be forced to start in a traditional manner. But, as you can see in the second picture, I don't think the change in direction is terribly obvious. I even put in arrows to try to help you see it.
Is this a case where no one should be that close to my knitting to tell? Not quite, since I'll be entering it in the contest, they might examine it closely and notice.
Samson claimingOn the other hand, funky construction shouldn't effect my chances too much. I looked at the entry form again. They want the finished object, not the pattern. The winning items will be photographed, replicated, and the copy will be auctioned off to benefit charity. So my funky construction won't matter until their knitter needs to make one. (see me being positive?)

More Technical Stuff
Baru yawning(Baru says HI!)
In case you're wondering, I used Judy's Magic Cast On rather than a crochet chain...for no reason I can articulate. Didn't want to fuss with the chain I guess.
Because of the ribbing and reverse stockinette stitch, I had to go through and reverse a number of stitches to get the pattern correct. IE, they were all presenting as, uh, purls and I had to drop them and pick them back up as knits.
Pulled it off rather successfully, if I do say so myself.
In the picture with the arrows, I have actually worked, uh, three rows going down, just to see how it would look and make sure it works. I think it looks good. I'm also rather pleased with myself for managing to get the cables going down to cross correctly. Hopefully I'll remember what I did when it comes time to work it for real.

Engergy Efficent in CT: Part 2. Was It the Lightbulbs?

draft testerI know I just posted a few minutes ago, but I'm so pleased and surprised I just have to share this.
Remember back in October how I had that energy assessment thing done on the house but after telling you all about the program I never told you about what they did?
Well, two guys came to the house. They set up this contraption in the front doorway that allowed them to test how drafty the house was. This let them see whether we were well sealed or if we were losing heating/cooling to leaks.
They also attached a contraption to the furnace that blew air through the system and checked if our ductwork was leaking.
It all had to do with air pressure.
At one point, they had gone out on the back porch and when they came back in the back door was closed, but not latched. The suction on the front door was so powerful it made the back door pop open!
Anyway, they sprayed this foam sealant stuff around the pipes under the kitchen and bathroom sinks, they spread this goop on the exposed ductwork in the basement, and they replaced old bulbs around 13 light bulbs with those compact florescent bulbs we are always being told are more energy efficient, blah blah.
(I believe we got the max number of bulbs, but that was about all they could do anyway since most of our lights are on dimmers and you need special, more expensive CFLs for dimmers.)

Nothing Changed
At the time I didn't really see any change in our bill because we are on UI's budget plan. They average your usage and have you pay one amount that is supposed to level things out, so when your usage spikes in the summer from running your central air you aren't floored by the bill. Instead you are pained every month because the bill is so high.
So at the time I was like, "yeah, whatever at least I did it." because I didn't see any results. Actually there was a point a few months ago when UI reassessed my account and increased my payment amount! ouch!

I'm In the Money
Well, our budget plan reset in January.
When it resets you have to pay any accumulated balance in full. I didn't have to pay a balance, which was a pleasant surprise, but didn't really register as significant. And I was like, "Oh boy can't wait to see what the new amount is next month." Because every year it has gone up by leaps and bounds, especially with the escalating cost of electricity.
But this time it's down! By $109, which is almost half!
(Say it with me...Hallelujah, thank you, Jesus!)
I think this is going to be the new amount for this year. I don't think they send an interim amount and then your budget amount starts on the next bill. So this is totally awesome.

Through No Fault of My Own
I can see that our usage was down in October, November, and December compared to other months (there is a spiffy bar chart on the bill) and since we haven't made any lifestyle changes, it must be the light bulbs!
Of course the generation charge also recently dropped from 12 cents to 11 cents, but I think that was just this month so I'm not sure how much that contributed to the overall budget amount resetting. IE, I don't think it has been reduced for a long enough time to have a significant impact.
Hubby just woke up and I was like, "Look at the electric bill! This is an extra $100 we get back!" He was happy, but as he had just woken up his main concern was coffee.
I can totally funnel this "extra" money into paying debt or savings pain-free because it isn't money we had last year so we aren't going to miss it.
2009 has been much kinder to us so far.

The take-away: invest in those CFLs, they are apparently totally worth it!

It's All About Hubby

sugar cage Or at least his birthday dinner, which was yesterday.
I will not bore you with the details of how wonderful my Hubby is. Aiming low: he doesn't beat me, smoke, drink, gamble, or run around. Aiming high: he's cute, intelligent, educated, a good cook, a good Alpha to my puppies, and he gets along with my mom (sometimes better than me). And he smells good, too.
To celebrate we went to dinner at Le Petit Cafe in Branford. On Saturday's they have a price fix menu with two seatings, so we went to the 8:30 one. We'd been there a few years ago for my birthday so we knew what to expect.
It's a cute little place (street parking) with a black and white checker floor and eclectic posters and knick knacks on the wall.
For appetizers Hubby got the duck confit, which came with a slice of apple and homemade jam (but I don't think we ate the jam). I had the soup of the day, which was a French chestnut and mushroom. The texture was similar to pea soup, it had a slightly sweet taste, and was not overpowering on the mushroom flavor.
Oh, and they have good, homemade crusty bread. Far superior to the loaf of bread I made a few months ago. But it wouldn't have been hard to top that loaf.
The next course was a mixed green salad with a disk of warm goat cheese. The cheese went very well with the 2005 Chateauneuf du Pape Telegramme Hubby had orders.
For our main courses, Hubby got the rack of lamb with snow peas and "apple-celeriac gratinne." Yeah, I know. It was white and thin like potatoes, but had an odd sweet flavor. So we asked the waiter how the potatoes were prepared, and he said "Those are parsnips" and we felt like ninnies because we are usually pretty good about identifying food and that was a major swing and miss.
But then it tasted good since we weren't expecting it to taste like potatoes anymore.
I had a center cut pork chop with baby brussel sprouts and a ginger sauce. I looked at my plate and said "I don't have a starch" and Hubby said "So what? You won't eat it anyway." Which is true because I'm a notoriously small eater but, as I told Hubby, "It's the principle."
My pork was tasty and well prepared, and I ate maybe a quarter of it so we'll have a very yummy lunch today.
Usually we swap entrees halfway through, but I was happy with my pork. The lamb must have been good because Hubby only left part of one chop (which he tossed on my plate for the doggy bag).
I shouldn't call it a doggy bag because my doggies aren't getting anywhere near my yummy leftovers.
Dessert was vanilla creme brulee for Hubby (and it was good creme brulee). And flourless chocolate cake with raspberry sauce for me. Which was just the right consistency of creamy but somehow fluffy.
The picture at the top is of Hubby's creme brulee. When they know it is your birthday they put a spun sugar cage over your dessert. (There were three birthdays last night, including Hubby.) It is fun to watch the candles melt the sugar. They also give you a spare plate to put the cage on. We ate some of it, then Hubby had fun going Godzilla on it and smashing it. Bits of sugar were shooting all over the table.
Oh, didn't you realize we're children? We were quite about the destruction of the sugar cage. And that was nothing compared to when we were eating our entrees and Hubby decided to be silly, started gnawing on one of his lamb bones, shook it like a puppy, and growled a little—and a guy at another table caught him doing it. We were pissing ourselves laughing.
Speaking of guys at other tables, the one next to us had on this cool socks that were red, blue, yellow bands of stripes. When I first spotted them they were slouched down and just looked like flashy stripes, but later he pulled them up and they were actually a spiral design. Very interesting, although not handmade.
And the best part? Hubby pointed it out when they guy had pulled them up because he knew I was spying on them. :-)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

I Don't Mean To Brag...

But we got our mortgage modified back in January. Actually is was the day before the time I got stuck in the driveway and then the wireless keyboard died. Really, I wondered if some karmic balancing was going on.
I'm not sure whether our modification relates to the original stimulus package that passed last year. Countrywide did not initiate our mortgage, but they hold it now.
If that name sounds familiar, Countrywide was one of the company names being tossed around when the sub-prime meltdown started. They have since been bought by Bank of America (who I'm pretty sure is buying the world). But they also got smacked by the federal government and according to this article from The New York Times some state attorney's general went after them, Connecticut being one of the states involved in the settlement.
I say this might be bragging because all the news stories I've been seeing seem to be about people who can't get their mortgage modified. But it was a breeze for us.
Now we are responsible home owners who pay all our bills on time and have good credit scores, so I don't know how much that is a factor.

What Prompted the Call?
When the sub-prime meltdown started I began wondering whether we had one of those pesky loans because we had a 5-year arm. Hubby and I had already been discussing looking into refinancing or something, since the arm was expiring next year.
Well, that snow day he was in the house unattended and opened a letter from "The Loan Modification Team."
(Hubby being unattended is a key plot point. If I had been there I would have thrown the letter out a junk mail.)
Since the topic was already on his mind, Hubby called to find out more. The guy told Hubby "the lenders" hire his company to find and modify sub-prime mortgages. Hubby said some of the stuff the guy said sounded ok, but other stuff sounded fishy (like mentioning several times that they are "a legitimate business." Hellooo, if you are that legitimate, why mention it?). I wandered in just at the point when the guy wanted $1,200 so they could start processing our paperwork.
Fortunately, Hubby is smart enough that he had given the guy NO information and when the guy said that Hubby said he had to discuss it with his wife and call him back. (hint, we didn't call them back.)

Let's Make a Deal
So we called Countrywide's refinancing department. The guy said our house probably didn't have enough value to refinance, considering the fees, and gave us the number to their internal modification department.
Did you catch that? Their internal department. So why would they hire an outside company?
(Oh, and just for the record, our house has held it value pretty well all things considered.)
We called the other number and the nice lady pulled up our record, which she had on hand because we do business with them, she asked permission to pull our credit reports (and said we have great scores), and she had us read her some figures off our W2s.
Then she said she could offer us a fixed 2.25% for 10 years and interest only payments for 5 years. And we said "Hallelujah, thank you Jesus" because that basically cuts our monthly payments (including escrow—ins, tax) in half! (Oh, after 10 years the rate goes variable, but it only changes once a year and won't go below 2.25% or above 7%.)
I literally fell on the floor when I heard the figure, but I did it on purpose for comic effect.

Sign Here
She told us we had to make our next two payments at the current rate and on time, which we've been doing for four years now so it isn't a problem, and the new terms would kick in in April.
I had to fax her our W2s. And she arranged for a notary public to meet us to sign the paperwork, at no cost to us. They even included the envelope for my favorite overnight delivery company. Oh, and this modification doesn't have any fees. Everything has been at no cost to us.
Our parents thought it was cool, but my mom expressed concern about the interest only payment bit. Because, as we all know, when dealing with debt if you aren't paying down the principal you aren't making progress.
I assured her we are aware of that, but considering we replaced the roof and the central air over the summer, we have some other debt to redirect the freed up funds toward. And there aren't penalties for prepayment.
Hopefully, once things settle down a bit, we can also consider funneling some of those funds into buying wine and yarn, because we all must do our part to stimulate the economy.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Mix & Match (lots of pictures)

samson harf Wow have I really not written a post since Thursday 2/12? Well, I attempted a post on Sunday 2/15, but then it was dinner time or something and I stopped. So to pick up where I left off on Thursday...
The harf is moving along, to the neglect of all other projects.
When I started this photo shoot the puppies where nowhere to be found, but you can see how it ended up.
I guess Samson decided I wasn't paying enough attention to him. Actually, he was the one not paying attention to me. Both times we went out to play fetch he ran off in the corner by himself. Fine! Be that way. At least Baru plays with me. (Wait, what was I doing playing fetch on Sunday? I was working at the store Sunday, this doesn't make sense.)

Two Tones and Textures
harf 2tone Since this is the prototype, I've been experimenting with some different ideas.
I wonder if there are designers out there who have ideas spring forth fully formed and they just knit the final project in one blow. They are probably the people who spend more time in the sketching phase. I can't draw to save my life, so I just plunge in.
(Huh, I could have sworn I wrote more than this, oh well.)
harf edgeIgnore the fact it changes from orange to yellow. That is simply a matter of I ran out of orange.
An intentional switch, which you might not be able to make out, was from stockinette stitch to reverse stockinette stitch. Which is putting the bumpy side on the outside. If you can see those faint lines, they are caused by the switch.
I also went from a garter stitch and ribbed edge on the leading edge to a 4 stitch cable. I then added a 4 stitch cable to the back edge. I'm really digging the cables and I'm glad I thought of it.
The only problem is that the edges are curling in now. Which I expected on the back edge because of the stockinette stitch base, but not so much on the front edge. Very annoying.

Combating Curling
So I took it to the store with me on Sunday to get opinions. D admired it and we think if I re-established the ribbing next to the cables that might help with the curling. I also threw two knit stitches back on the interior side of the cable panel. It does frame the cables nicely.
I didn't have enough left to knit to really test the theory, but it is showing potential.
I made some of the changes by dropping stitches and picking them up again with a crochet hook, but I couldn't do the entire length because of that lifeline I put in (the black and white yarn you can see there) but never used. Not sure why I ran it now. Anyway.
I was only able to put in one knit stitch on the front edge, which I think looks off, so I'm probably going to add stitches to the front edge in general so I can have a k2,p2 pair there.
harf yellow
Despite knitting my little fingers off on Saturday, I felt like I didn't get anywhere and still had many rows to decrease before I got back to my original number. Oddly, I don't remember the increases taking that long. Maybe I worked the increases in more sporadic chunks of time so it felt faster, but spending most of the day Saturday on the couch really let me see how far I got.
Regardless, on Monday I finally reached the magic number. harf orange
I had planned to then work a portion of the scarf part (the ribbed section at the bottom of the orange half) on this end to match the first end, but I'm so over the prototype at this point.
Really, I think I've (oh my gosh, am I ever going to finish this post? I was working on it during lunch and had to stop. I have to get it wrapped up before bedtime) accomplished/learned what I can from the prototype and I'm ready to get started with the actual knitting.

Oh, I give up, I'm posting this thing already.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Ugh, Mud

muddy yard Just before I started this post I got an e-mail from my mom that her company has blocked my blog. Guess it's all my racy content.
So I had to tell her over e-mail that I finally trooped up to the post office during lunch and mailed her mitts already.
In case you can't tell, this is a view of the current state of our backyard with all this warm weather we've been having. Melt, snow, melt!
This is looking down off the back porch at the area near the azalea bush—which is Samson's favorite spot to stand when we play fetch.
(He's practicing to try out for a spot in the Yankees' outfield so you have to throw him pop flies. We haven't had the heart to tell him that we don't think the Yankees hire puppies. This is, of course, in addition to his training for the Iditarod, which hasn't been going well lately because of the warm weather.)
As you can imagine, they've been tracking this muck in the house. This morning was the worst day so far, I could actually hear the mud sucking at their feet as they ran. It was quite and interesting sound. I have brought a big mixing bowl of water out with me to try to rinse their paws of by splashing, but it was so bad I had to resort to the garden hose.
What a mess.

In Knitting News
You might have seen in yesterday's comments that Ms. Create has given me permission to kick the bobbles to the curb. Phew. I was just waiting for someone else to say they sucked. Of course I was trying to put them in at the advice of other knitters to begin with. I've decided to listen to the advice I like!
Still I'll try to get you a picture of the last bobble attempt with the increases worked on the wrong side rows. It just wasn't meant to be.
Hubby's sock is progressing. I'm through the 15 rows of ribbing and onto the leg. I'll be able to actually measure my gauge now. :-) Yeah, I just recklessly cast on 64 stitches figuring it would work out. It looks like it should. But I might decrease a bit toward the ankle as his are surprisingly slender.
The doily is starting to mock me. It's sitting on top of my jewelry box on top of my dresser, which puts it around eye level. This also makes it one of the first things I see when I wake up and I end up staring at it as I get dressed. sigh. I should get them done.
That was not the plan when I abandoned it there. I had been working on it in bed so I could be with Hubby who was reading school work in bed. When I was ready for sleep that was the best puppy-inaccessible place handy.

Speaking of Getting Dressed
Baru was doing the Sphinx thing on the bed this morning as I was standing in front of my dresser getting clothes out. And he started licking my back! I was like, "Eww, puppy, don't lick my back!" and turned a way a little.
So he started licking my elbow instead.
I swear, these puppies.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Bothersom Bobbles

heart cables I was cranky and out of sorts all weekend. Now I have a headache, which hasn't improved my disposition at all. And I firmly believe all this knitting for other people, which is sooo out of character for me, is exacerbating the situation.
So I've abandoned all projects in favor of the Heart Harf. Well, except for Hubby's Sox Socks, which I retained for office knitting.

Seeking Balance
You see here more progress on the yellow prototype. I've also included the original green swatch for comparison.
I'm still not digging the bobbles.
Toward the top of the yellow version you can see another attempt to embed a bobble in between the hearts. I got it a good distance from the bottom one, but it is still crashing into the top one.
I'm having trouble getting a balanced number of rows above and below the bobble. I would even take "close enough" but that hasn't happened yet either.

Massive Alterations
My next attempt, which I didn't photograph, involved going back to the Lavold book to see if I can work the increases on the wrong side (ie back) of the work to try to gain some more rows.
I figured it out, but it caused a cascade effect shifting the pattern on multiple rows up since the increases actually take three rows to accomplish—a work even row sandwiched between two increase rows. I tried to increase on a wrong side row followed immediately by a right side increase and it didn't look good at all. Have to have that rest row.
However, changing which rows the increases happen on is starting to alter the original chart quite a bit and I'm not sure I liked the results.
I took these pictures late in the evening in the dining room. It was a wee bit dark, even with the chandelier cranked up. If the flash went off everything was washed out. Without the flash it was dark and detail was lost again. This is actually a dark picture that I lightened using the "enhance" feature in iPhoto.
So I really need to get a picture in daylight for you to get a better idea of how it looks.
I'm really starting to think I might ditch the bobbles and go back to the original, unaltered chart.

Red, Red Yarn
aslan yarn All of these consideration took on a new urgency over the weekend.
Remember how I mentioned that contest the other day?
And how whether or not I entered would depend on my ability to acquire the company's yarn?
Well, guess what.
This is Invernal from Aslan Trends in Scarlet/color 2979. It is a blend of Angora, Merino, and Polyamide. The angora makes it soft and fuzzy.
Happily, it should also work to the same gauge as Cascade 220, so once I get the prototype worked out I can just follow the same numbers.
Anyway. Now that I've sunk all this money into the yarn, I had damn well better enter the contest! Of course it will be even better if, ahem, I mean when, I win so I can recoup my investment. Haha!

Sock Club Update
Oh, phew, haha, I forgot that I was supposed to get the ball rolling in the secret Yahoo! Group. So I sent an e-mail yesterday fishing for compliments. People have been responding that they like the yarn and pattern very much, but most of them are working on other projects so they haven't cast on yet.
Phew! Guess I got myself all worked up for no reason. :-)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

It's So Quiet

The February installment of the Knitting Central Sock Club was mailed last week.
I bring this up because I was the designer this month—and I haven't heard any feed back on my pattern!
We have a private Yahoo! Group set up for people to discuss the club and there has been no chatter at all (although they've been a quite group this time around).
Have they not received it?
Do they not like it?
But, wait, Cynthia liked it and she has good taste and it was going out in her name so she would have said something.
And Trish from Tanglewood Fibers seemed to like it. And she doesn't know me from Eve, so it's not like she had to be nice, that has to count for something.
(By the way, and you didn't hear this from me, they are working on a sock yarn. I can't remember if she had sock yarn with her when she was at the store last year. I but the colors will be great, sounds like it's a straight merino. And I don't know if Cynthia will have it in the shop.)
But why hasn't anyone in the club said anything?
Oh no! What if they all hate it and don't want to tell me?
What if Sheep Shop Yarn finds out and are like "What monstrosity have you created using our Sheep Feet yarn?!" and then they send the Knitting Police to take away my needles.
This is it. My design career is over before it's even begun!
I should hang it up now before I embarrass myself too much.
I'll only be allowed to knit plain, stockinette stitch scarves from now on.
No, even that is too complicated.
I'll only be allowed to knit plain garter stitch scarves!
(Ok, a joke is totally killed if you have to explain it, but for the sake of you non-knitters: stockinette stitch requires knit and purl stitches, garter stitch is just knit stitches. haha, I'm so clever.)
Or, just to be on the safe side, maybe I should give up on knitting all together. Go back to crochet exclusively. That would severely curtail my fiber activities since I can't crochet for long spells without pain.
I'd be restricted to just doing two double crochet stitches a night. It would be the never ending scarf.
That would make for one boooring blog.
Ok, calm down, deep breath. If there is no chatter in the group...who in the club has a blog?
Right, Major Knitter does. would appear she likes it. She's just bogged down with other projects.
I can go back to working on Hubby's new socks and the Heart Harf is still a go.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sixth Picture Challenge

Nutcracker 2005 Riohnna tagged me again!
I need to set up some kind of early warning system for these things.
This one is pretty harmless, unlike that "7 things about me" one I got hit with before and that "25 things" one someone on Facebook wacked me with. Good grief, it's hard to think of that many things off the top of my head. Or, at least, that many things that I would share with someone other than Hubby.
The rules are:
1. Go to your pictures
2. Take the 6th folder
3. Choose the 6th picture
4. Show the picture on you blog and write something about it.
5. Invite 6 new people to this challenge.
6. Link to them and let them know they are challenged.

Well, I only have four folders on Flickr, so that wasn't going to work. Changing tact, I went into iPhoto. The sixth album was labeled "Nutcracker 05" which had potential. The sixth picture happed to be this one of the set from the end of the show. We went to the evening performance and I believe the stage hadn't been reset from the matinee performance.
Why do I have a picture of the empty set? Well, I'll tell you.
My aunt plays violin for the NY City Ballet (and the Opera too, as a matter of fact). So in 2005 she was able to get us balcony seats (I think) for her awesome employee price!
AND we met her about 15 or 30 minutes before the show started at the special employee entrance and she gave us a whole backstage tour.
Why, yes, it was as cool as it sounds.
We saw the rat king head up close, and we played with the fake snow, and we saw the magical Christmas tree braced to grow (well, Hubby did anyway, I believe I was slumped in my seat by then).
See, as you do in a situation like that, we made an evening of it. We went to dinner at Morrell Wine Bar near Rockefeller Plaza. But then we could get a taxi, so we ended up doing a brisk walk over to the David H Koch Theater which is right next to the Metropolitain Opera House.
Well, after a rich dinner (which of course included wine), the brisk walk, and the excitement of seeing all the secret backstage stuff...well, lets say I wasted some of that fancy dinner, shall we?
Luckily I was able to get out one of the airsick bags I carry incase a migraine takes a bad turn, and I'm sure I'm not the first person to get sick backstage, although I might have been one of the few who wasn't a nervouse performer. (Huh, I'll have to remember this story for the next time I'm hit with an about me list.)
Hubby and my aunt took the situation in stride and I fled to our seats while Hubby got to see the rest of the fun stuff (no point in him missing out because I'm delicate!).
We also got to meet the guys in the catwalks who do all the special effects during the show. That was cool (I got sick shortly after that). Hubby was fascinated. He would have been happy watching the show from up there. My aunt said all the boys always feel that way.
The show was, of course, great. If that wasn't the first time I'd seen it, it was the first time as an adult and I'm really sure the first time seeing the official performance.
Every so often we talk about doing it again, but skipping the bit where I make a spectical of myself, but we haven't gotten around to it.
Ok, I think that's enough of that. And I think we've already established that I'm a baby when it comes to tagging other people. So, if you are inspired, feel free!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Fingers and Toes

BSG & Baru I've been a busy little girl, despite my weakened condition (cough, sniffle).
As you can see here, I finished my BSG Socks last night.
To Recap:
Jitterbug Yarn in the Mardi Gras colorway.
US 2 needles
My standard Jitterbug formula for the pattern. As these are my third pair of socks in Jitterbug, I don't have to fiddle around.
Actually, that's not entirely true. It's my new standard Jitterbug formula. On my first pair of Jitterbug socks (the blue ones) I did a plain stockinette stitch heel flap. On these and the Purple Jitts I did a heel stitch flap with garter edge.
Which is the same heel I did on my New Year's socks. Yeah, I'm a bit fixated on it at the moment.
So the socks took about 80 grams of yarn with about 36 grams left over, which seems par for the course with this yarn.
The joys of small feet.

Scrappy Socks To Be
Of course, part of the reason I bought this skein of Jitterbug yarn was because I had the left overs from the Blue and Purple. The other reason is because I really liked the color and one day I said "If that flashy skein of Jitterbug is still in the store today I'm gonna buy it." And it was.
At one point I tried to make a pair of toe up socks with the leftover blue yarn, but it wasn't enough for even a pair of peds. I realized I would need the leftovers from two skeins to make a full pair of socks.
When assessing my stash, I realized the Sol Joy yarn was close enough to the same gauge to toss into the mix as well, so I needed a fourth yarn to be able to get two pairs.
Now I just need to get them all together to see what looks good together. I'm thinking the Purple and the Sol Joy and the Blue and the Mardi Gras.
Heel, toe, and cuff with be one color, foot and leg will be the other color. It will be grand fun.

moms mitts done This morning I finished the mitts for my mom.
To Recap:
Debbie Bliss Rialto 4ply yarn in the romantically named color 22011, which is maroon if you ask me.
US 2 needles
My very own Top-Down Alpaca Mitts pattern. :-)
They did not take the whole ball of yarn, in fact they took 25 grams, which was about half the ball.
Gee, I hope they fit her. Well, they fit me, so it should be ok.

So I've moved on to the doilies. Turns out she only wants 3, which means I'm basically a third of the way there. yipee! Judging by my notes in Ravelry, it took me four days to the make the first one.
I just spent some time pulling the edging out on the first one. That was a little harder than I expected.
Since the yarn is stiff, I didn't have to worry about dropping a stitch and having it go slithering away, but at the same time it was a little hard to manipulate. It also didn't help that I didn't reread the pattern carefully and ended up picking out an entire row of plain knitting as I was trying to figure out where I was.
Every other row is plain knitting. Instead of spelling it out throughout, the pattern just announces that at the beginning. But I didn't look at that bit. Oh well, it was only one row and now I'm really sure where I am so I can start moving forward.
She said she wants them to be 12 inches across and the one I made was 7 inches. I measured and the inside spiral was about 6 inches, leaving an inch for the edging.
I figure if I get the inside spiral to about 11 inches and then work the edging as stated, I should be good. I figure the edging might end up a wee bit deeper just because there will be more of it.
Now I just have to doodle out the progression of the rows to expand the pattern. Happily, it's a nice regular progression. In theory I shouldn't have to write it down, but why tax my brain trying to remember what is happening? right?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Puppy Logic

pups on bed
Originally uploaded by TravelingAnn

Monday morning Baru and I were downstairs making Hubby's eggs when we heard a commotion upstairs.

Baru said he'd keep an eye on the toast so I could go check it out (but I think he had ulterior motives).

When I got upstairs, Samson was no where in sight, but Hubby was in the office being annoyed that the trash can was tipped over.

Now, aside from a bouncy ball filled with glitter and some scraps of paper filled with the desperate notes of a woman who can't get out of her own icy driveway, nothing of interest gets thrown in this can. It's the principel, really. So we cleaned up and when downstairs.

We finished breakfast with neither nose nor tail (which are both rather large) of Samson being seen.

But as soon as Hubby left for school, I mean as soon as the front door closed behind the Alpha, Samson came trotting downstairs, sat down next to me, and started nudging me for treats. (I guess Baru told him about getting toast since he was a good boy.)

Obviously Samson knows our schedule and that the Alpha leaves first. Obviously he knows what the front door opening and closing sounds like. And Obviously he figured that with the Alpha out of the house he could come out of time-out and everything would be back to normal.

Which shows that he can reason. It also shows where I rank in The Pack that he doesn't worry about discipline from me.

It also makes me wonder, if he can think all that through on his own, why does he still do things he knows are bad?

For instance, on Tuesday morning Samson was acting just a little "off." I can't describe it, he just seemed tightly wound and cheeky. And I said to Hubby, "He is going to wreck something, we should leave out a sacraficial box." With the idea being that if he is going to wreck something anyway it might as well be something we don't care about.

So I left the empty box from the Trader Joe's Jo-Jo cookies on the sofa table instead of taking it to the recycling bin. Didn't say anything, just left it there was the other stuff.

Sure enough, when Hubby got home the box was in the Green Room all chewed up and the pups were no where in sight.

So smart, and yet so impulsive.

In Knitting News

Yeah, I haven't been around. First work was really crazy, then I caught that cold that's going around (sniffle, just came on yesterday), so I haven't been able to blog much.

Knitting-wise, I moved the thumb stitches for mom's mitt off the scrap yarn and onto needles last night, but that was all I could manage. It was a little too dark in the living room to see what I was doing and I didn't have the energy to get up and crank the light higher. (Now, that just sounds silly to you two, but my mom knows how far it actually is and can appreciate my difficulty.)

All I could manage, I'm so weak and looped on cold medicine, was working on my BSG sock. I'm into the toe shaping, probably only have like six rows to knit to actually finish, but I reached that point around 9 pm and I wanted to go to bed early. See, that shows you how yucky I was feeling, usualy if I'm that close to finishing a project I stay up late to do it!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Progress Pictures

harf swatch Well, actually, I've decided not to include as many pictures as I was going to. Instead I'll just include the dramatic ones.
Like this one, of my Heart Harf.
So the bottom half, where the ribbing is, is basically what the scarf portion will look like. I'm going with ribbing since it doesn't curl and is a pretty classic scarf stitch.
I keep debating doing little cables instead of plain ribbing, but I don't want it to be too complicated.
As I said, the scarf bit is pretty straight forward, so I just did enough to get the idea.
Then the top half goes into the start of the hood section. This part I'm doing in stockinette as I figure it shouldn't curl too much. Also, ribbing would pull in too much to make the hood effective. I've done a number of increases here and it is actually time to switch from the short cables which function as straights to a longer cable which will function as a circular needle and better accommodate the larger number of stitches. My goal is to have the hood be 17 inches deep, which will hopefully accommodate a range of head sized. I settled on that figure by holding the end of the tape measure at the base of the back of my neck, then pulling it out until it was a little beyond my face. Very scientific. Of course, once I reach that measurement I can sort of try it on to see whether it works.
I do like my Denise Needles set and the ability to switch on the fly like this.
harf detail You can also see I've worked one and a half repeats of the heart cable panel, which might give you a better idea of how the panels are self contained.
In this picture to the right, you can see a close up of the detail of the cables along with the bobbles.
At the bottom of the picture is the bobble between the end of the upside down heart and the beginning of the right side up heart. This is the bobble the women at the store suggested I add.
This is also the bobble I was saying didn't work out well the last time I posted. I think it needs buffer rows on either side so it stands out more.
That's part of the reason I'm stopped at the halfway mark on the next repeat. I want to write down what I do to expand it and haven't had quite time to work on it.
Further up the piece, where the rib ends and the smooth stockinette begins, you can see the bobble between the panels. This is the bobble I added because I could just hear them saying it was needed.
I think it is working out. It does have more buffer rows below it than above it, but as I need an odd number of rows that is bound to happen (it is also a concern for the one in the panel), but I don't think it looks too unbalanced. Hopefully the one in the middle of the panel won't look unbalanced.
In other Harf news, the designer of the cable got back to me and said I could use it. She just asked me to reference her blog in the pattern credits, which I expected as I believe it's what she asks for on the blog explaining her project.

Fingers and Toes
I just have to work the thumb on the left hand mitt for mom and then I'm d-o-n-e. Well, except for mailing them.
And I'm through the gusset decreases on my BSG socks. A little less than 20 rows to work to the toe shaping.

Oh, I have to e-mail my MIL. Aunt L sent the doily back (along with $20 for crochet thread, yipee!). She included a little note about how lovely it is but she needs it 12 inches, which my MIL already told me. But she forgot to mention how many she wants. sigh. The good thing about having this one back is now I can measure the different elements to try to determine how much more to work on the center, etc. It also moves the project along since I have one mostly done.

Ok, things have been crazy here at work, what with deadlines flying by unmet. That break at Christmas was lovely, but sent everything into a tailspin. The one good thing is my entire team is missing deadlines, so it's not like I'm a slacker. The bad thing is the Deadline Setter and I have been stomping around for months complaining that our team always meets deadlines and never gets credit for it. Now the powers that be are paying attention for once and we're all scrambling to make good on our claims. oops.